Graduation Rate 

Franklin & Marshall College, in compliance with the 1990 Federal Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act, publishes the percentage of students who enter the College as new first-year students in the fall and then graduate in six years or less. The six-year graduation rate for the classes who entered as first-year students in the Fall of 2014 was 85%. 

College Graduation Honors 

College honors are awarded to graduating students on the basis of their final cumulative grade point average according to the following standards:

Summa Cum Laude 3.90  —  4 .00
Magna Cum Laude 3.70  —   3.89
Cum Laude 3.50 —   3.69


Granting of Honors

Departmental or program honors are awarded to students who successfully meet the following requirements:

     1.  Complete an approved outstanding Independent Study project, which entails extensive independent research or creative effort and which culminates in a thesis, a work of art, a recital, or some other performance.

     2.  Submit the Independent Study project to a specially constituted review board and successfully defend the project in an oral examination of the project and of related work.

     3.  Complete a significant body of course work of high caliber in the department or program or in related departments or programs.

The rule of thumb for a “significant body of course work” in the field or related fields is a minimum of four courses, in addition to the Independent Study project. If departments or programs wish to impose stricter guidelines or to waive this minimum, they should submit requests to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, who may consult the Educational Policy Committee for advice in particular cases.

Departments may determine whether a “significant body of course work” is worthy of honors in either of two ways: first, they may determine a minimum grade point average for work in the department beneath which students may not be granted honors; or second, they may meet subsequently to the student’s oral defense and vote to determine whether the “significant body of course work” is worthy of honors.

Students usually will major or minor in a particular department or program in order to receive honors in it, but need not, provided that they: meet the above requirements; are recommended by the review board to the department or program for honors on the basis of the quality of the project and its defense; and receive the recommendation of the department or program that the supporting course work in the field is of sufficiently high caliber to support the recommendation for honors. The “significant body of course work” of students with a Joint Major will be evaluated by the home department of the adviser of the Independent Study. For students with Special Studies majors, this evaluation will be conducted by the student’s primary department (typically the one in which five courses or more are taken).

The following guidelines are to be observed in Independent Study projects considered for departmental or program honors:

     1.  As early as possible, the project adviser, in consultation with the advisee and department or program chairperson, should constitute a review board of at least three but no more than five persons, one of whom might well be from another department, program, or institution. Copies of the completed thesis or project should be sent to all members of the review board before the oral examination.

     2.  The adviser should establish procedures for the oral defense with the examiners, specifying, for example, whether the student will make a brief opening statement, how much time will be allotted to each examiner and in what manner, etc. The adviser is responsible for briefing the student on these procedures well in advance of the defense.

     3.  The defense should last at least one, but no more than two hours. Artistic performances will, of course, vary in length. The defense should be open to any interested observers, with the knowledge of the student, and its time and location should be published in advance of the meeting.

     4.  To allow the student and examiners maximum freedom, the adviser should not enter into the defense unless specifically asked to do so, and should not feel obligated to be present for all the deliberations of the review board.

     5.  After the oral examination, the review board members alone should, after discussion, vote by secret ballot on the thesis and its defense. They are asked to determine whether the thesis and its defense warrant a recommendation of “Honors” or “No Honors,” as one part of the department’s or program’s evaluation of candidates for honors. The chairperson of the review board should notify the department or program chairperson in writing of the board’s recommendation.

     6.  The recommendation to the Provost and Dean of the Faculty for departmental or program honors will consist of:

          a.  The written recommendation to the department or program chairperson by the chairperson of the review board concerning “Honors” or “No Honors” on the basis of the project and its defense, and;

          b. The evaluation by the department or program chairperson concerning the caliber of a significant body of course work in the field.

          Both recommendations must be made at the “Honors” level for students to receive departmental or program honors.

     7.  The project adviser alone is responsible for assigning the final grade for the Independent Study project and for reporting that grade to the Registrar.

Interdisciplinary Honors 

A student who earns “Honors” on an interdisciplinary project may be granted “Interdisciplinary Honors” if each department meets separately and each grants “Honors” based on a significant body of work in its own discrete department. In that instance, the transcript will read “Interdisciplinary Honors: Dept 1/ Dept 2.” 

Withholding and Revocation of Degrees

1.   A student who is subject to a pending disciplinary case is not eligible to receive a degree or participate in graduation until that case is resolved.

2.   The College reserves the right to withhold a degree and/or graduation participation if warranted by circumstances such as the discovery of serious violation of the College’s policy on Academic Honesty.

3.   The College also reserves the right to revoke an already granted degree if circumstances such as the above warrant.

4.   An eligible student with any unpaid College bills may participate in the graduation ceremony but will not receive a diploma. The College reserves the right not to release official transcripts until all bills are paid. 


The annual Commencement ceremony is held at the end of each spring semester and recognizes students who received degrees the preceding summer and winter as well as those students receiving degrees on the day of the ceremony. Degrees are conferred three times each year: at the annual Commencement ceremony following the spring semester, at the end of August, and at the end of January. Students who receive degrees in August or January will receive their diplomas by mail and will be listed in the Commencement program the following spring. Students who receive degrees at the end of the spring term may receive their diplomas at the Commencement ceremony.  Those who elect not to attend should notify the Registrar and indicate their preferred mailing address in writing in order to receive their diploma. Attendance at the ceremony is not required.

Seniors who are close to completion of graduation requirements by the end of the spring semester may apply with the Registrar’s Office to participate in the Commencement ceremony without receiving a diploma if they:

     1.  Have a 2.00 or higher major grade point average, a 2.00 or higher cumulative grade point average and the approval of their major department;

     2.  Are in overall good standing at the College (this includes disciplinary matters);

     3.  Are able to complete all graduation requirements by satisfactorily completing not more than two (2) additional course credits;

     4.  Submit a workable plan to complete all graduation requirements as soon as possible and no later than the August 31 following Commencement. In extraordinary circumstances, students may request an exception. If such a request is approved, students will not be permitted to participate in extra-curricular activities, including intercollegiate sports, subsequent to the Commencement in which they participate.

This policy is administered by the Associate Registrar. Exceptions to these requirements are rarely made. If a student feels that an extraordinary situation is present, he or she may present the case, in a written petition, to the Committee on Academic Status for special permission to participate. No further appeals are possible.

Qualified students may participate fully as seniors in all Commencement exercises. Their names will be listed in the Commencement program with a notation “degree requirements to be completed.”

These students will receive their diplomas on the degree conferral date following completion of all requirements but will not be listed in future Commencement programs. For alumni programs purposes, such students will be considered members of the class of their choice. Additional information may be obtained from the Registrar’s Office.